Middlesbrough took full advantage of Dan Neil’s first half red card and ran riot after the break to hammer Sunderland 4-0 in the Wear-Tees derby at the Stadium of Light.

Midfielder Neil was sent off for Tony Mowbray’s side deep in first half stoppage time after receiving a second yellow card for dissent, allowing Boro to take complete control.

Former Sunderland youngster Sam Greenwood, who came through the ranks on Wearside before leaving for Arsenal when he was just 16 and later joining Leeds, broke the deadlock on 58 minutes before Matt Crooks added a second goal two minutes later.

The impressive Isaiah Jones scored the third 17 minutes from time before substitute Marcus Forss wrapped up the emphatic victory in the last minute.

After failing to pick up three points in any of the first seven Championship games, Boro – who were widely fancied for promotion before a ball was kicked this season – have now won four league games on the bounce.

Sunderland had won five of their last six games and were first to threaten when Abdoullah Ba fired just over the crossbar inside the first 10 minutes, before Patrick Roberts forced a fine save out of Seny Dieng after a weaving run from the right.

Boro responded well and after Greenwood’s shot was only parried by Anthony Patterson, Josh Coburn hit the outside of the post with the rebound from a tight angle.

The game swung in Boro’s favour deep in first half stoppage time when Neil, who had been booked earlier in the half for a foul on Coburn, was given a second yellow card for dissent. A melee then broke out at half-time after a Coburn foul on Ballard, with Carrick and his coaching team rushing on to the pitch in an effort to calm things down.

Boro had two glorious chances early in the second half as they set about making the most of their numerical advantage. Patterson made a fine save at the feet of Crooks, who looked certain to slot home Jones’ cross from the right. From the resulting corner, Paddy McNair headed over just four yards out.

The goal Boro had threatened arrived 13 minutes after the break. Dael Fry picked out Greenwood inside the box and the 21-year-old lashed beyond Patterson. Just two minutes later the game was all but over as Jones beat Clarke down the right before teeing up Crooks for a tap in.

Jones got the goal he deserved after weaving across the pitch from the right and keeping his cool to slot home with his left foot. And after substitute Latte Lath’s shot was saved by Patterson in the 90th minute, Forss was on hand to score the fourth.

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray has challenged his players to keep their impressive run going after a 2-0 win over Watford kept them fourth in the Championship.

Full-back Niall Huggins’ thunderous first goal of his professional career put the Black Cats on course for three points two minutes before half-time.

Abdoullah Ba’s back-post header in the 62nd minute effectively sealed the points before the Hornets had substitute Ryan Andrews sent off for a reckless tackle on Jack Clarke late on.

It was Sunderland’s sixth win in eight matches, leaving them six points off the top two ahead of Saturday’s meeting with neighbours Middlesbrough.

Mowbray said: “I’m delighted for Niall. He has had a tough time in the year or so I’ve been here with injury. Yet he’s had really high moments too.

“We did huff and puff for 45 minutes but we got the job done. I thought the centre-backs were amazing tonight. I’m pleased with them all, we have goals all over the pitch.

“We have to keep going. We kept a clean sheet and got three points.

“The moment normally comes from Jack Clarke or Patrick Roberts, and yet Niall comes up with an amazing goal.

“We preserved what we were doing. Sitting here now with 2-0 feels good. It was a dangerous game.

“I’m not sure Watford’s results warrant the talent they have. I am just pleased we have three points and move on to the next one.”

Niall Huggins’ brilliant first goal in professional football helped Sunderland to stay fourth in the Championship courtesy of a 2-0 win over Watford.

It was a goal to remember for the 22-year-old full-back, who moved from Leeds two years ago, after his thunderous effort flew in off the underside of the bar two minutes before half-time.

And this young Sunderland side went on to claim a sixth win from their last eight matches after Abdoullah Ba’s 62nd-minute header left Watford wondering when things will take a turn for the better.

The Hornets, who handed head coach Valerien Ismael a contract extension on Tuesday, have only won once since the opening weekend of the season and sit 21st.

Watford’s miserable night got worse with three minutes remaining when substitute Ryan Andrews was given a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Jack Clarke on halfway.

Huggins’ opener arrived out of the blue. Even though Sunderland controlled much of the possession for the first half an hour they had very little to show for it.

Patrick Roberts looked lively when he was on the ball but the only time the home side tested the goalkeeper was when Jobe Bellingham drove low into Daniel Bachmann’s arms.

Other than that Watford grew in confidence as the half wore on and had worked Anthony Patterson from distance too.

Tom Ince and Giorgi Chakvetadze, making his first start since moving on loan from Gent, both curled efforts into the arms of the Sunderland goalkeeper.

Just when it seemed Watford might gain an advantage a crucial two minutes arrived just before the break and ended with the home side leading.

Moments after referee Andy Davies allowed play to go on despite Sunderland captain Luke O’Nien appearing to consciously barge into Watford’s Francisco Sierralta at one end, there was a moment of brilliance at the other.

Sunderland worked their way through the lines before Huggins took over on the right. He worked his way inside, beating Chakvetadze and then Wesley Hoedt, before his rasping 18-yard drive flew in off the bar.

There were Watford complaints to the official as the two teams left the field and after the restart the visitors started the brighter without finding the net.

Sunderland created the best of the second-half chances. Dan Ballard headed over from Roberts’ back post free-kick on the hour.

Soon after that it was 2-0. When striker Mason Burstow clipped a cross to the back post, Bellingham headed back across the six-yard box where Ba was on hand to nod high into the net.

After that it became a routine night. Substitute Adil Aouchiche had an effort cleared off the line by Ryan Porteous after he ran clean through and there was no way back after Andrews saw red.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray said he wants Sky Bet Championship teams to feel his side’s attacking threat after they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at Hillsborough to move up to fourth in the table.

A Dan Ballard header and two goals from Jack Clarke, the second a penalty,  ensured the Black Cats’ victory in a little more than half an hour.

Mowbray said: “We needed to start fast, we were mindful of our last away game at Blackburn. Tonight we started fast and gave ourselves a great platform to go on.

“To get three goals before half-time was great. The only thing, and I said it in the dressing room, I was a little disappointed we didn’t go on and score more.

“They are a young group of lads and they have to learn. I can’t really complain; to come away and score three goals is good.

“But you always feel in this stadium that one goal goes in and you never know, so we talked about not giving them chances and it wasn’t until the last few minutes that they had any.

“If anything, we had to let them feel our threat more in the second half and be more clinical; score some more goals. I want every team to fear us and sit players behind the ball as a result.

“We were happy to keep the ball but moving forward, I would like other teams in this league to feel our threat – that if they get it wrong we are going to score.

“Of course, it’s about winning but the bigger picture is I want us to be an even better team and when teams aren’t quite right, we can really damage them.

“But it’s another three goals away from home for the third time on the bounce, so we just have to keep rolling.”

Wednesday boss Xisco Munoz apologised to supporters, with his side making the joint-worst start after nine games in Championship history.

Munoz said: “We started so badly and everyone is disappointed. This is the level we are at and after the second goal the game was done. In the second half we had some better moments but not enough.

“In the first half an hour we have three shots and they have three shots but they score the goals. We need to change the dynamic and be better in the final third.

“We changed systems and we changed players. We continued to try to find solutions and we tried to take risks after the second goal but it’s very hard to react the way we want to.

“We need to try to change a lot of things and my way is to try to find solutions. To get results you need to earn them but it was impossible after the first half.

“The results are very poor, that’s clear. But if you ask me if we have improved since I arrived, then yes. It’s not easy and we need to manage the pressure.”

Wednesday are in disarray off the field, with chairman Dejphon Chansiri releasing a statement earlier in the day stating he would be putting no additional money into the club.

Munoz added: “I can’t speak about the chairman; my job is the football side of things and the focus is on the players.

“To the fans, I’m so sorry. I’ve been under pressure since the first day. It’s a big challenge but I will continue to fight every day.”

Sheffield Wednesday have now made the joint-worst start after nine games in Championship history after Sunderland beat them 3-0 at Hillsborough on Friday night.

A Dan Ballard header and two Jack Clarke goals, one a penalty, had the Black Cats in cruise control before half-time.

Wednesday are a club in disarray off the field, with chairman Dejphon Chansiri releasing a statement earlier in the day stating he would be putting no additional money into the club.

Owls boss Xisco Munoz made two changes to the team that lost 3-0 at Swansea, with George Byers and Callum Paterson joining the starting XI.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray made just the one switch after the 1-0 defeat at home to Cardiff, with Patrick Roberts coming in for Abdoullah Ba.

The first two chances of the game brought goals for the away side.

First, Ballard rose highest to meet Alex Pritchard’s corner after five minutes and just three minutes later Sunderland doubled their advantage when Clarke drove towards goal from the left and arrowed a beauty into the bottom corner.

On-loan Wednesday man John Buckley had a go from outside the box but his effort was put past the post by goalkeeper Anthony Patterson, then Anthony Musaba chanced his arm moments later but saw his curling attempt fly over the bar.

The third goal came in the 31st minute after Bambo Diaby brought down Mason Burstow in the box. Clarke stepped up to send Devis Vasquez the wrong way – it was the Championship top scorer’s second of the night and seventh of the season, six of them coming away from the Stadium of Light.

Home fans who had not already headed for the exits chanted for both manager and chairman to leave the club.

In the second half, Pol Valentin made a mazy run down the right-hand side and his cross found Paterson, who saw his shot saved by keeper Patterson.

Jobe Bellingham nearly made it four but his effort from distance went just wide.

Despite bringing on forwards Ashley Fletcher and Djeidi Gassama in the closing stages, Sunderland comfortably dealt with the majority of Wednesday’s attacks for the remainder of the game, having done the damage in the first 30 minutes.

The result lifts the Wearsiders to fourth ahead of Saturday’s fixtures, while Wednesday remain bottom, with just two points from their opening nine games.

Tony Mowbray thinks Sunderland still have to get used to playing at the Stadium of Light against teams looking to frustrate their attacking style of play.

The Black Cats boss reflected on a disappointing day for his side when Cardiff defended well to pave the way for Mark McGuinness to head in an 87th-minute winner.

That was enough to lift the Bluebirds up to seventh in the Sky Bet Championship courtesy of a third win in a row but the result halted Sunderland’s impressive run.

Mowbray’s side were looking for a fourth successive win but instead McGuinness’ winner ended a five-match unbeaten run.

Cardiff set up to make things difficult for Sunderland from the start and along with some good defending, goalkeeper Jak Alnwick made a string of fine saves.

Mowbray said: “We shouldn’t be too disappointed, they gave it a real go. We found it last year, teams will come and defend here, get men behind the ball and they were very resilient.

“We have have to find that extra bit of quality. It felt like we dominated the game, and it could have been a nice 1-0 win for us.

“I didn’t think Cardiff looked like winning the game but they have nicked one in the end. It’s frustrating for us.

“There was lots of good stuff from us in the right areas, but maybe the final pass, that final ricochet, wasn’t there. Cardiff managed to block a few second half and we will give them credit, they came with a game-plan and we didn’t manage to break it down.

“We had the ball a lot and yet we didn’t find a way to score today. We had lots of moments and I am sure had we found that extra touch we would have scored and won the game.”

After a slow start to the season Cardiff are finding their feet under former Fenerbahce manager Erol Bulut, who took over in June.

And he is convinced the players are starting to understand his demands after another hard-working display that earned its rewards.

Bulut, who revealed the absent Aaron Ramsey was ill, said: “It was a great win, but first congratulations to Sunderland who have one of the best teams in the league. They have a good future ahead of them. It was not easy to have this victory for us.

“Sometimes you have to fight to win and score one goal and this time it got us a victory. We got the chance and we finalised it. We got the corner, there was great fight, and we scored from it.

“You could see the first games we had in the league, where we were leading and we lost points. Concentration was not how I wanted it. But we have trained, spoken about it, had individual meetings, and the last few weeks have been better.

“It’s still not perfect, and football is a mistakes game, so we tried not to make mistakes in the defence and we were in the right position to win.

“We have three wins now and we have to stay calm. I am a manager who tries to give maximum, take maximum and ask for the maximum. If we get those we will get rewards.”

Former Sunderland academy player Jak Alnwick kept his old club at bay before Mark McGuinness headed home a late winner to snatch a 1-0 victory for improving Cardiff at the Stadium of Light.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper, who left the Black Cats to join Newcastle in 2008, made a string of fine saves to frustrate Tony Mowbray’s men.

And with three minutes remaining centre-back McGuinness headed in the only goal of the game to make it four wins from five for the Bluebirds.

That was enough to bring an end to Sunderland’s five-match unbeaten and they remain fifth in the Sky Bet Championship standings.

Cardiff, who move up to seventh, had a couple of earlier half-chances but this was a fixture when they were thankful to Hexham-born Alnwick for keeping them in it.

Mowbray named an unchanged team in a bid to continue the excellent run of form but Cardiff, under former Fenerbahce boss Erol Bulut, have enjoyed recent positivity too after a slow start to the season.

Cardiff were set up to frustrate, with the home side quick to enjoy plenty of possession in the opposition’s half.

But chances were few and far between early on at the Stadium of Light, where Friday’s England Women’s Nations League win over Scotland pushed back this fixture by 24 hours.

After Karlan Grant had fired over from distance for Cardiff, Sunderland started to get more joy at the other end and should have taken the lead 22 minutes in.

Just minutes after Jobe Bellingham had headed into the arms of Alnwick, the goalkeeper looked beaten when Alex Pritchard side-footed towards the bottom corner.

But Cardiff defender Dimitrios Goutas’ touch was enough to take the effort inches wide of the upright after some clever play from Abdoullah Ba and Bellingham down the left created the opportunity.

Even though Sunderland had to be aware of Cardiff’s counter-attacks, Jack Clarke was next to go close when he skipped past two men and forced Alnwick into a low stop before half-time.

The flow of the game continued that way after the restart. Alnwick was again on hand low to his right to stop Pritchard’s drive from the edge of the area after a lovely move also involving Mason Burstow and Clarke.

While goalless the door was always open for Cardiff and Ike Ugbo turned and shot over after the visitors created a promising opening when Burstow was dispossessed on halfway moments after he was cautioned.

Sunderland kept pressing and Clarke’s excellent run and pass was followed by Alnwick saving from Patrick Roberts’ first-time effort, while fellow substitute Adil Aouchiche’s rebound was blocked by a defender.

Cardiff’s Kion Etete forced Anthony Patterson into a stop after a mazy run through the Sunderland backline with 10 minutes remaining as the game suddenly opened up.

And the ideal away performance was complete when McGuinness arrived at the back post to nod Ryan Wintle’s corner inside the bottom corner late on.

Tony Mowbray praised “super talent” Jack Clarke after his double helped Sunderland to a 3-1 victory at Blackburn.

The Black Cats rode their luck early on and needed two brilliant heroic blocks from Dan Ballard to save certain goals.

It gave Sunderland and Clarke the platform to flourish. He won and converted the opener – a calm finish from the penalty spot – and although Harry Leonard’s header pegged them back, Dan Neil restored the lead before half-time.

Dilan Markanday hit the woodwork in the second half, but a composed Sunderland looked increasingly dangerous. It was typified by the imperious Clarke, who rounded off the scoring by nonchalantly rolling in from close range.

After their third successive win, Mowbray challenged “amazing” Clarke to keep working hard. He said: “I was extremely unhappy with him for half an hour. He was right in front of me and he wasn’t listening!

“He was amazing tonight. Scored two great goals, earned the penalty, he stuck it away, which shows the confidence level he’s got to stand up and take the penalty, and the composure for his second goal.

“But not just the goal. The more the game went on, the more this team knows to give it to Clarke who can run it 40 yards up the pitch, he can cut inside, pass it to people in the box, he can shoot.

“He’s a super talent, he’s a great kid and I don’t apologise for shouting at him and telling him he has to work hard because all the best players work harder than anybody else and their talent shines through.

“That’s what he has to do, to learn to work really hard out of possession for the team.”

Jon Dahl Tomasson felt Blackburn should have been “out of sight” in the first half.

He said: “We are very disappointed with the result. If you look at those chances we created, we should at least have scored three or four goals in the first half.

“Also, the way we created it and the amount of big chances, we should have been out of sight in that way. We saw some excellent football.

“I think we gave three unnecessary goals away. Of course, sometimes when you chase the game in the second half, it was a little bit more open. But we conceded a penalty and I think that’s the first time they were in our box. Then a corner just before half-time.

“Second half, I think we started well. Dominant again, created chances again. When you look at those amount of moments, it is crazy that we didn’t get a result.

“The team have done a lot of things right. Of course, we need to be more clinical.”

Jack Clarke scored twice as Sunderland moved up to fourth in the Sky Bet Championship with an impressive 3-1 win at Blackburn.

The Black Cats had to weather a ferocious early Blackburn storm, but took the lead with their first shot as Clarke won and converted a 28th-minute penalty. Harry Leonard’s header drew Rovers level, but Dan Neil struck his second goal of the season in added time to give the visitors a half-time lead.

Dilan Markanday struck the post for Blackburn, but Sunderland were much more composed than the first half and in Clarke, boasted the game’s supreme performer. He duly made the game safe 12 minutes from time, superbly creating the chance to score his fifth of the season from close range.

It capped a happy return to Ewood Park for former manager Tony Mowbray, whose side made it three successive victories.

Blackburn raced out of the traps and were close to a spectacular opener when Leonard’s volley from a narrow angle sailed just over.

They should have been ahead in the ninth minute when Anthony Patterson saved from Sammie Szmodics and the rebound fell to Andrew Moran six yards out, but Dan Ballard produced a sensational block to deny Rovers a certain goal.

The defender repeated the trick three minutes later when he headed over a Szmodics goalbound effort as Blackburn’s onslaught continued.

Somehow, it was the Black Cats who took the lead in the 28th minute after Clarke nipped in ahead of Ryan Hedges as he tried to clear the ball and he kicked the Sunderland man instead.

Clarke picked himself up and calmly slotted his penalty straight down the middle of goal.

Rovers deservedly drew level seven minutes later when Callum Brittain’s sumptuous cross was headed beyond Patterson by Leonard at the back post. Ballard was off the pitch for the goal that looked offside, leading to Tony Mowbray being booked for his protests.

But the visitors regrouped and went ahead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time when a corner fell to Neil, who took a touch before firing a low left-foot drive beyond Pears into the bottom corner.

Patterson tipped a Lewis Travis effort behind after the restart before the imperious Clarke set up a chance for Mason Burstow to shoot straight at Aynsley Pears.

Substitute Markanday was inches away from an equaliser in the 70th minute when he did well to engineer space in the box before curling for the far corner, but his effort hit the post and fell safe.

It was fitting that Clarke sealed the three points for Sunderland in the 78th minute, effortlessly cutting in from the left past three defenders and Pears before casually rolling into the bottom corner.

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray insisted his side looked good enough to beat QPR even without the sending-off of Jack Colback.

The Black Cats came from behind to win 3-1 at Loftus Road, where Kenneth Paal put the hosts ahead before Rs midfielder Colback was red-carded against his former club for a challenge on Jobe Bellingham.

However, Paal’s opener came somewhat against the run of play and Mowbray felt the visitors were superior prior to Colback’s dismissal.

They equalised in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time when Jack Clarke’s effort was diverted in by QPR defender Steve Cook.

And second-half goals from Dan Ballard and Abdoullah Ba secured the points.

Mowbray said: “I think we started really well in the game, dominated, and then they scored. It wasn’t as if they were peppering our goal and giving us problems.

“We got the job done and I think we controlled the game and deserved it.”

QPR’s young Irish striker Sinclair Armstrong caused problems with his pace and power, but overall the home side struggled.

Mowbray added: “QPR spend a lot of time out of possession – their average possession is 33 per cent – so we knew we were going to have lots of the ball.

“It was about how we broke down their defensive block and we found a way to do that, which was pleasing.

“They are a team that are driven to be competitive and we were trying to control the game.

“But I thought we were OK in the first half and it seemed a matter of time.

“They were trying to score on the transition with Armstrong, who’s a hugely talented boy, but I thought we dealt with him really well.

“I just felt it was a matter of time before we scored and it was great that we scored before half-time.”

QPR boss Gareth Ainsworth had no doubt that Colback’s sending-off was the turning point in the match.

Ainsworth said: “Jack’s a competitor and if you tackle hard in this day and age and miss your timing then the refs can come down with a red card. He’s been a victim of that.

“We had a plan put in place and looked very secure, but with 10 men it was always going to be difficult against a team that were one game away from the Premier League last year and have spent good money in the transfer window.”

Rangers were almost relegated last season, have won just once at home since last October and have lost all three of their home matches this term.

But Ainsworth is adamant there has been a marked improvement.

He said: “This place is different to what it was. I’ll tell you now: these boys empty the tank every single game.

“It was hard with 10 men. I’m not saying we definitely would have won with 11, but we had a plan.

“To get to half-time 1-0 would have been great. It’s a different team-talk at 1-0 up. After that I just wanted us to stay in the game.

“The third goal was really a killer. That kills us off.”

Sunderland came from behind to beat 10-man QPR 3-1 as Jack Colback was sent off against his former club.

Kenneth Paal put the hosts ahead but Colback was then red-carded and the Black Cats levelled after seven minutes of first-half injury time when Jack Clarke’s effort was deflected in by Rs defender Steve Cook.

Rangers battled hard but second-half goals from Dan Ballard and Abdoullah Ba secured the points for Tony Mowbray’s side.

QPR have won just once at Loftus Road since last October and have lost all three of their home games so far this season.

Paal opened the scoring for them with a crisp strike from just outside the penalty area after 12 minutes.

After Sunderland failed to properly clear Paul Smyth’s throw-in from the right, Ilias Chair teed up Paal, who sent a low left-footed shot beyond keeper Anthony Patterson and into the bottom corner of the net.

The goal came somewhat against the run of play, with the visitors having made a lively start.

Rangers survived an early scare when Ballard blazed over at the far post from Clarke’s left-wing corner, before Sunderland appealed in vain for a penalty when Clarke went down in the area as he tried to get between Smyth and Sam Field.

Paal’s opener – the left-back’s second goal of the season – galvanised Rangers but they suffered a major blow when Colback was dismissed nine minutes later.

Colback is a hugely unpopular figure among Sunderland fans, having left the club to join arch-rivals Newcastle in 2014, and they revelled in his straight red card for a challenge on Jobe Bellingham.

The Black Cats had a goal disallowed for offside soon afterwards when Bellingham headed in after being found by Alex Pritchard’s ball in from the left.

And an almost identical build-up then resulted in Bellingham missing a sitter as he failed to make contact when again found unmarked inside the area by Pritchard.

However, just as Rangers looked like getting to the interval in front, they conceded an equaliser. In attempting to head away Clarke’s shot from near the left-hand edge of the penalty area, Cook succeeded only in diverting the ball past keeper Asmir Begovic.

A second-half barrage from Sunderland inevitably followed and they went in front on 57 minutes courtesy of defender Ballard’s first goal for the club.

Pritchard exchanged passes with Patrick Roberts and was denied by Begovic but the loose ball rolled to Ballard, who had a simple tap-in.

Ba almost added a third when he fired against the outside of the post from an awkward angle after being set up by Bellingham.

But he made no mistake with an emphatic finish from Adil Aouchiche’s left-wing cross on 81 minutes.

Russell Martin believes Southampton’s heavy defeat at Sunderland is evidence that his side have not yet shaken off the hangover of last season’s relegation from the Premier League.

Saints suffered their first defeat of the Championship campaign as they were hammered 5-0 by the brilliant Black Cats at the Stadium of Light.

Martin’s side endured a horror start, going behind to Jack Clarke’s opener after just 52 seconds before Pierre Ekwah added a second for the hosts six minutes later.

Southampton then attempted to get some control of the game but conceded a third on the stroke of half-time, when former West Ham midfielder Ekwah hit his second.

Bradley Dack added a fourth immediately after the restart before 16-year-old substitute Chris Rigg rounded off the rout deep in stoppage time.

Martin said: “I feel really sorry for the supporters that came, they were amazing right to the end and we have to make sure this is the toughest day we have and we have to learn from that.

“Initially it’s really difficult to analyse because I’ll have to watch it back, but when you concede two goals early it completely changes the complex of the game.

“The one thing we spoke about is starting well. It’s a young team at Sunderland and when the wind is in their sails they’re very good but when they have a difficult start they can then find it tough to get the game back

“But the game just went for them. They had momentum after their start, brilliant momentum and we didn’t have enough of that.

“Everything they did well – they fought, they came out on top of duels, they worked so hard – we didn’t, we went in self-preservation mode, which I think is still a hangover from last season.

“It’s the first defeat but the manner of it really hurts.”

The win extended Sunderland’s unbeaten run to three games and Tony Mowbray was delighted after what he says has been a “tough week” off the pitch due to transfer speculation surrounding a number of his players.

The Black Cats lost Ross Stewart to Southampton on deadline day but also had interest in a number of other key players, including Ekwah, Clarke, Patrick Roberts and Dan Neil – who all stayed at the Stadium of Light.

Mowbray said: “The result is important for the team and the spirit.

“It’s been a tough week in the build-up to it in terms of speculation around a lot of our players. In training yesterday, there were rumours about certain clubs looking at certain players and it disrupts young footballers.

“I can see them talking to each other, and yet they showed great professionalism today. We all turned up and did what we hoped we could do.

“I’m happy with the day and happy for the fans. On paper this is a really difficult game. I looked at their squad on the back of the programme and just saw name after name after name of really experienced high quality footballer.”

Sunderland made four deadline-day additions, including the loan signing of Chelsea forward Mason Burstow.

Mowbray said: “We have some extra attacking players now and they might watch that game today thinking how do they get in that team, but that’s OK because competition drives all footballers.”

Southamtpon’s unbeaten start to the Championship season came crashing to an end as Russell Martin’s side were blown away 5-0 by brilliant Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland fans taunted Ross Stewart after the injured striker’s deadline-day switch to Saints as Tony Mowbray’s side built on a dream start and stunned the visitors.

Jack Clarke scored the opening goal after just 52 seconds before Pierre Ekwah added a deflected second six minutes later.

The outstanding Ekwah scored his second and Sunderland’s third on the stroke of half-time. Bradley Dack added a fourth early in the second half before 16-year-old substitute Chris Rigg rounded off a perfect afternoon with his first league goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

The win means Sunderland – who signed four players on deadline day, including Chelsea loanee Mason Burstow – are now unbeaten in three games.

In the week boss Mowbray marked his first anniversary as boss, the Black Cats delivered their best performance of his tenure so far.

A fine opening goal inside a minute set Sunderland on their way. Abdoullah Ba found Trai Hume on the right and the full-back delivered a teasing cross that was met by winger Clarke, who ghosted in at the back post to head home.

Ba was again involved in the second six minutes later. After a Jobe Bellingham cut-back, the winger, only in the team because of the injury to Patrick Roberts, who Southampton tried to sign this week, teed up Ekwah on the edge of the box and the former West Ham midfielder found the bottom corner from 25 yards.

After their nightmare start, Southampton settled down and tried to get a grip of the game. In a dominant 10 minute spell, Martin’s side had 91 per cent of possession but failed to find the goal they needed after the horror opening.

And rather than sit back and soak up pressure, Sunderland then pushed for more goals.

The third came in the 45th minute when Ekwah pounced on a mistake by Southampton debutant Mason Holgate and curled into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.

Southampton made two substitutions at the break, introducing Che Adams after his deadline-day move to Wolves fell through and Newcastle loanee Ryan Fraser. But the changes did not have the impact Martin had hoped for and within four minutes of the restart Sunderland had their fourth.

Gavin Bazuna saved well to keep out a header from Dack but the home side kept the ball alive and the former Blackburn man poked home from close range.

Sunderland put the icing on the cake in the 95th minute when Rigg headed in a cross from fellow substitute Jewison Bennette.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray is still waiting for his attack to fire this season after they ground out a goalless draw at Coventry.

Already without long-term casualty Ross Stewart, the Black Cats were also shorn of the injured Patrick Roberts, with Mowbray continuing to mend and make do with 17-year-old Jobe Bellingham leading the line.

Mowbray is hoping he will be able to bring in a striker before the transfer window closes on Friday in order to add a cutting edge to a side that frequently dominates possession.

In terms of chances created, it was Coventry who shaded matters and it required several good saves from Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to preserve a point for the visitors.

Mowbray said: “The game panned out a little bit differently to what I thought.

“I thought we would come here and dominate possession, like we did last year against them, and they were good first half with the ball.

“I was disappointed at half-time and we readjusted a few things and I thought we were better in the second half.

“We got into some good positions and just the final ball wasn’t quite there today, as we can say in most of the games this season.

“The first three games we averaged 68 per cent possession and we got in behind teams so many times, but we couldn’t find the pass to put the ball into the back of the net.

“It was a bit like that in the second half today and yet you could always feel Coventry’s threat.

“They obviously played two strikers and a 10, they’re a menace and I thought the concentration was good defensively.”

The best chance of the first half came Coventry’s way after 44 minutes when Ellis Simms went through, only for Patterson to save well with his legs.

Sunderland looked bright after the restart and forced Ben Wilson into action twice in a matter of moments as he parried Dan Neil’s effort before also saving Dennis Cirkin’s follow-up.

Kasey Palmer then tried to force the issue for the hosts with a good run into the area, but his tame effort was comfortably saved by Patterson.

The clearest chance for either team to win it came in the 79th minute when Coventry debutant Yasin Ayari played in fellow substitute Haji Wright, who was also denied by the impressive Patterson.

Coventry boss Mark Robins said: “Across the backline, I thought we were outstanding.

“When we needed to, we threw bodies in front of it – I think Milan (Van Ewijk) has had his best game, Jay Dasilva has been really good today, Kyle McFadzean was a joke throwing himself in front of things.

“Then on the flip side of it, we’ve played some really good football.

“We got through them, we got into wide areas, they sat deep and tried to play on the counter-attack against us – they had three players there to try and break out at any given moment, and that’s why they’re dangerous.

“They dropped bodies in, we tried to open them up and if we don’t get it right because there’s no space, it means that as soon as we turn it over, they’re on a counter.

“That put us on the back foot in terms of coming out and being really aggressive.”

Coventry and Sunderland had to settle for a point as two of last season’s Championship play-off semi-finalists played out a 0-0 draw at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

It was a point that is likely to be more welcomed by the Black Cats as they continued to recover from losing their first two games of the season.

Sunderland’s Anthony Patterson was the goalkeeper who was called upon more often as the Sky Blues, still adjusting to the loss of key players during the summer, made it three games unbeaten.

Sunderland began brightly, with Bradley Dack miscuing wide after working his way into a good position before Trai Hume launched a long-range effort off target.

There were no clear openings, however, with the final pass lacking from both teams, although Kasey Palmer’s through ball meant for Matty Godden required Patterson to quickly come off his line and gather.

A ricochet from Ben Sheaf’s shot then presented half an opening for Godden, but he could not get any power on his effort and Patterson saved easily.

It was one of the few occasions either goalkeeper was called upon as chances remained at a premium, with defences very much on top.

An opening was finally fashioned by Coventry in the 44th minute when the ball was played through for Ellis Simms and the former Everton striker was denied by the legs of Patterson.

Both sides were hoping for more after a tepid first half, however, and it was Sunderland who made a lively start to the second as they worked Coventry keeper Ben Wilson for the first time after 49 minutes.

Dan Neil’s shot from just outside the area was parried out as far as Dennis Cirkin, who also found his route to goal blocked by Wilson.

Palmer then tried to force a breakthrough for the Sky Blues at the other end, but his shot on the turn from the edge of the box never looked like finding the target.

There was a much better tempo to the game now, though, and Palmer looked sharp again during a good run into the Sunderland area, only to shoot tamely at Patterson.

A raft of substitutions from both sides unfortunately hurt the flow, but Sheaf tried to seize the initiative for Coventry as he snatched a shot from outside the area wide.

Two of the Sky Blues’ substitutes then combined for the clearest opening of the match after 79 minutes as debutant Yasin Ayari, on loan from Brighton, played the ball through for Haji Wright, who was denied by a fine save from Patterson.

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